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Diaries out! What’s on in Essex this July

Time to have some fun in the sun! I've tracked down all the best entertainment in the county this month, from festivals to outdoor theatre - enjoy!


Face glitter at the ready for 8 Day Weekend in Saffron Walden (8-16 July), which includes an Opening Night on The Common with live music from Massaoke (audience participation essential!) and The Little Mix Show *pre-teen scream*.

EA Festival setting

I’m preparing to pack a picnic for this year’s EA Festival at Hedingham Castle (11-12 July), which launched last year as a showcase for East Anglia’s creative leaders in literature, media, art, environment and music. This year some of the big name speakers include Justine Picardie, Maggi Hambling and Paul McKenna. 

Colchester’s got it going on this month, with the Colchester Roman Festival (30-31 July), a great family-friendly event, with reenactments to encampments with authentic cooking and craft from the era. Educational AND fun, holiday gold. The city (woo hoo) is also hosting the Outdoor Film & Street Food Fest in Castle Park (21-24 July) including screenings of Jumanji, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Bridesmaids, Clueless and Back To The Future

Colourful Chelmsford Carnival

Grab and whistle and make some noise at Chelmsford Carnival (3 July). It’s a great spectacle, kicking off at 1pm in Admirals Park with marching bands, samba, drumming, flags, go-karts and bikes, plus entertainment at the end in Backnang Square.


Little ones (and also me) will appreciate seeing Eric Carle’s iconic book character The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show brought to life at Thameside Theatre, Grays (12-13 July), including 75 magical puppet sidekicks.

For a shot of Shakespeare book tickets for an open-air production of As You Like It at Stanley Hall, Halstead (10 July) – bring a chair, pack a picnic and arrive early as the gardens are gorgeous. Alternatively there’s an al fresco performance of Much Ado About Nothing showing at Shotgate Park, Wickford (29 July). 

If you’ve been missing the sequins and emotions of Strictly, then you’ll want to fox trot down to Strictly Presents: Keeep Dancing! At Cliffs Pavilion in Southend (23 July), which includes performances by EastEnders star and last year’s finalist Maisie Smith. 

Get your giggles on at Chelmsford Comedy Club (21 July) at the Lion Inn where Edinburgh Festival fave Danny Ward, Carey Marx and The Raymond & Mr Timpkins Revue will be entertaining the crowd. 


Plenty to keep you entertained movie-wise at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester this month, including Top Gun: Maverick (2 July), The Railway Children (23 July) and Exhibition on Screen: Frida (6 July), a documentary all about the mono-browed iconic artist. 

The Northman, Licorice Pizza and Rocketman are all showing at drive-in movie hot spot Barleylands in Billericay. Giant screen and pop corn included! 


Bubble & Pop kids festival on Marsh Farm (21 July-2 Sept) is a great day out with bouncy castles, train rides, sand pits, animal encounters, crazy golf, fairground rides, bouncy pillows, foam machines, paddling pool and circus fun. While Kids Fest at Lee Valley Farm (22 July-31 Aug) which has been dubbed Glastonbury for kids: think circus skills, glitter stations, bouncy castles, foam parties and a music stage. 

Check out the Anglo-Saxon Weekend at Prittlewell Priory Park in Southend (30-31 July) where kids can be immersed in history, taking part in craft workshops, try their hand at archaeological excavation and even have a go at battle re-enactments. 

TAGactive, an indoor obstacle course for kids and adults, has opened in Brentwood so you might want to check that out when holiday cabin fever hits. There are 12 challenges involving roped ladders, ball pits and tunnels and you collect points as you go. Good luck. 


Marks Hall Estate’s walled garden

There’s still time to see some of the stunning work from Nat Geo’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year at Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey. On loan from the Natural History Museum, it’s here until Aug and free entry but you’ll need to book. 

A Sense of Place: Gus Farnes & Moira Goodall shows at Sculpt Gallery (9 July – 6 Aug) in Great Braxted, showcasing the work of the two local artists including fired pots and bronzes. Chat to the artists about their work at the private viewing and open garden on 9 July, see website for details.  

This month I’m also going to visit the enchanting Walled Garden at Marks Hall Estate (23 July – 4 Sept) where 150 sculptures by 33 sculptors are being installed. And while I’m there I’ll enjoy the lake and woodland walks too. 


Down Hall Hotel & Spa is hosting a charity summer ball in memory of TV star Jade Goody on 21 July to raise money for the Trust for Complementary Rehabilitation, which raises awareness of cervical cancer and supports women living with it in the UK. Hosted by presenter Mark Wright and Jade’s hubby Jack Tweedy and her sons Bobby and Freddy, it promises to be a fun, if emotional, night. Tickets £125pp includes three-course meal and entertainment from the likes of TOWIE’S James Argent. 

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